Grimes Made a PSA to Save California's Last Nuclear Plant

Grimes let us know she appreciates nuclear power in a video with TikTok nuke influencer Isodope.
Grimes
Image: Isabelle Boemeke Twitter.

Grimes wants you to know that she appreciates nuclear power.

The pop star, who recently publicly separated from Tesla CEO Elon Musk (and dropped a fitting breakup song), appeared on the Twitter account of nuclear power influencer Isabelle Boemeke on Monday to talk about the closure of the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant in California. 

“Diablo Canyon is California’s last nuclear power plant and makes enough electricity for three million people,” Grimes said while Boemeke read an X-Men comic in the background. “This will push the state backwards instead of forwards in its goal to be 100 percent reliant on clean energy.”

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Diablo Canyon is California’s last nuclear power plant. First commissioned in 1985, the plant currently provides 10 percent of the state’s power needs. It also sits on a bluff overlooking the Pacific ocean in an area experts say is prone to earthquakes. After the Fukushima disaster, concern grew about a natural catastrophe causing a nuclear nightmare on California’s coast. In 2018, California legislators decided to shut the plant down by 2018.

A few months later, the legislators also committed to getting 100 percent of its energy from renewables and clean sources by 2045. Activists began trying to save Diablo Canyon, saying that it would be impossible for California to meet its energy goals without the plant. 

Boemeke, who uses the persona Isodope on social media to spread information about nuclear energy, told Motherboard that she’s spent the last 18 months using her platform to try and save the embattled nuclear power plant. The weekend before the Grimes video dropped, Boemeke was in San Luis Obispo at the head of a Save Clean Energy rally trying to spread the word about her campaign. 

“Grimes is my friend, when I told her about the Save Clean Energy rally she got super interested and offered to do a video about it,” Boemeke told Motherboard. “Diablo Canyon has been my area of focus for the past year and a half, as it is the last nuclear power plant in California. The state is a leader in climate change and clean energy and shutting down Diablo goes directly against the stated goals of getting to 100 percent clean electricity by 2045.”

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According to Boemeke, the rally was a success and the Grimes video premiered there before being shared on Twitter. “We heard from voices like Dawn Ortiz-Legg district 3 supervisor in SLO, she urged people to reconsider the closure,” she said. “Carolyn Porco, the person who got me interested in nuclear power back in 2015, also spoke and had a message to those who are anti-nuclear: ‘I am asking you, for the sake of your future, and the future of your progeny, please reconsider.’”

Nuclear power is, by and large, a safe and efficient way to generate energy. It’s also incredibly expensive and time consuming to build a new nuclear power plant and it can take decades for them to be profitable. That, along with cultural aversion due to the spectre of disaster, has made it hard to build nuclear power plants in the United States. According to Boemeke and others, it’s foolish to close down a working nuclear power plant in a state faced by constant rolling blackouts and climate change to shut down such a huge and efficient source of clean energy.

A November 2021 study by Stanford and MIT scientists concluded that delaying Diablo Canyon’s closure by 10 years could save California $21 billion, 90,000 acres of land, and reduce carbon emissions by 10 percent. The study also said that building a desalination plant near Diablo Canyon could help produce fresh water for the entire state—a perennial problem in California.

“For all the reasons above, closing the plant now is a terrible idea, it will most likely increase GHG emissions and our reliance on fossil fuels,” Boemeke said. “Former secretaries of energy Steven Chu and Ernest Moniz have written an op-ed in the LA times and even current secretary of energy Jennifer Granholm has chimed in saying we should keep it open.”

Boemeke said she loved working with Grimes on the video. “Grimes is pretty great to work with, she is very funny and her brain is extremely unique,” she said. “She is not afraid of being bold, weird and talking about things that might seem controversial. She is very much on board with nuclear power and especially likes advanced nuclear, since these reactors are even safer than older ones.”

According to Boemeke, the taboos against nuclear power seem to be breaking down. “China has announced they will build 150 reactors in the next 15 years, France has promised to go big on nuclear again and a recent poll in the U.S. shows a sharp increase in support for nuclear power in the last year,” she said. “I am choosing to believe Isodope has had an impact on it.”